The Democratic Alliance’s mayoral candidate, Athol Trollip, officially launched his mayoral campaign to thousands of blue clad supporters who flocked to the Donkin Memorial in the city centre of Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Trollip was introduced to the crowds of spectators by party leader Mmusi Maimane and took to the stage dancing to rousing applause as Johnny Clegg’s Impi blared forth from the speakers.
In his opening speech, Trollip said that the launch of his mayoral campaign marked the start of a new chapter for the Metro.
Trollip said he would be campaigning to stop the corruption that plagued the city and bring service delivery back based on appointing individuals on their skill set rather than on their political connections.
He also promised to focus on crime and safety, pointing to the fact that the Metro currently had a full time Metro Police Chief employed at huge expense, but did not have a single metro police officer on the streets.
“I am proud and humbled today to launch our campaign to make me the next Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay and to lead the Democratic Alliance to City Hall in next year’s local government election,” he said.
“It is going to be a long road. And it’s going to be a tough journey. But it is one I am confident that we will walk together successfully.
Race has nothing to do with his mayoral candidacy
Trollip said some people claimed he was unfit to stand as mayor because he was a white man and that this signified he was planning to bring back apartheid.
“I stand here today as a white South African asking for the votes of all South Africans, of all races. Given the history of our country, some of you might ask: How can we trust him? Some might argue that it would betray the legacy of the struggle to vote for me, and the party I represent,” he said.
“Well, let me say that those people who share those views are still living in our tragic past.”
“A past where every South African was judged on the colour of their skin and not by the content of their character,” he said.
Trollip said Maimane bore testament to this as he was elected because of the content of his character, not the colour of his skin and lead the only political party in South Africa that is a home for all regardless of race, culture or ethnicity.
“I have spent the majority of my life in public service. I joined the DA’s predecessor party, the PFP, in 1980 because they were fighting against Apartheid, and my family supported that fight.”
Townships to become suburbs under DA leadership
Trollip said he would be embarking on a visit of all 60 wards over the next sixty days to engage with the people directly and hear what the challenges are that are facing each ward.
He said he would be focusing on the most needy wards first. He said this campaign would then add valuable insights which could be worked into a comprehensive turnaround strategy that would be implemented when he took office.
He said the DA would aim to convert the townships into suburbs, focusing on ensuring the same service delivery across the metro.
Speaking to the media afterwards, Trollip said currently some townships only had their refuse removed every second week, while others were lucky to have refuse collected once a month, while more affluent suburbs had their refuse collected weekly.
He said the DA would ensure that refuse collections would take place across the city on a weekly basis, regardless of the area.
“This is the kind of society the DA is striving to create in Nelson Mandela Bay and in South Africa.
A society where a child born in New Brighton can have the same opportunities as a child born in Summerstrand,” he said.
Trollip said he was running for mayor to to create a fair, inclusive city with opportunities for all.